The Red Sox are blessed with a number of options in almost every position but none more so than that of catcher. Following a year of such promise that ultimately ended in real disappointment, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and the red of Boston’s decision makers are putting together their plans for the new campaign. There might be some areas of this roster that need addressing, but it looks as though the Sox should be able to put a tick next to the catcher position.
While there was a time last season when it looked like Boston would be forced to bring in another man behind the plate due to injuries to Christian Vazquez and exciting prospect Blake Swihart, Sandy Leon’s emergence as one of league’s in-form players has now handed the Red Sox management a real headache as we prepare for a 2017 season in which Boston are currently priced at around 7/2 to win the World Series with the latest bet365 MLB betting odds. Not many teams in this league have two, never mind three catchers they’d feel confident of throwing into the fray at a moment’s notice, but that doesn’t come without its own problems.
With Vazquez as natural a catcher as there is in the league and Leon ending the year as one of the franchise’s hottest players, it had been looking as though Swihart would be on his way out of Fenway Park this offseason. Tipped by many as one of the most exciting young catchers in the MLB, the Red Sox wasted little time in promoting Swihart into the majors from the Triple A in his rookie year. And it didn’t take long for the Texan to make his mark, hitting .274/.319/.392 with five homers and 31 RBI in 84 appearances, looking like a seasoned professional behind the plate in his first year in the league.
On the back of a promising rookie year, 2016 was expected to make the starting catcher position his own, only for an ankle injury to all but ruin his plans. Cast out to left field as he worked his way back to full fitness, Swihart watched on as Leon was handed the chance to fill in for an injured Vazquez. Having spent the majority of his career playing development baseball, Leon grabbed his chance with both hands – literally – hitting .310 with a .845 OPS and seven home runs in a sensational 78 appearances that really came as a surprise when looking at his previous batting stats.
With the Red Sox pursuing a host of big name players, Swihart looked like a very good candidate to be involved in a trade that helped bring a starting player to Fenway. Dave Dombrowski, however, isn’t believed to be willing to lose a potential future All Star catcher. Instead, it’s likely that he sends the youngster to Triple A, utilizing Vazquez and Leon as his two starters for the time being. At just 24-years old, it could be a couple of years at least before Swihart really reaches his full potential. When he does, though, the Sox know they have an elite player on their hands and someone who could have a big future with the franchise.
Tom is the owner of RedSoxAholics and an avid Boston Sports Fan. Tom grew up as an avid baseball card collector with favorite players including Dwight Evans, Mo Vaughn, Pedro Martinez, Dustin Pedroia, and Mike Greenwell.